Easy Upgrade Tips


Solid State Drive
One of the most beneficial upgrades you can perform on your laptop is to remove the spinning mechanical hard drive and replace it with a solid state drive.  
SSDs are more reliable.  Unlike their hard disk drive counterparts, SSDs are shock resistant.  This is most imperative in a laptop, where your crucial school or business data can become corrupted with a bump or a drop to the laptop.  SSDs are not susceptible to magnetism like HDDs are. They have no moving parts, and can handle several G's of acceleration.  On average they are also rated for more hours of use than HDDs.
SSDs are faster.  With no spin-up or seek times, SSDs present instant access to files, no matter where they are on the disk.  Most laptop hard drives operate at 5400RPM, well below the 7200RPM of their desktop counterparts.  You may see peak read speeds up to 100MB/s, but in real life all of our data isn't in a neat line for the HDD to read sequentially.  When you add in seek times, You may be transferring or opening a file below 1MB/s.  Compare that to the average speed of a SSD, which is over 500MB/s for reading and writing data (with M.2 surpassing 3,000MB/s).  Even old computers with limited processing ability can benefit from the blazing comparative speeds of a SSD; the data rate of SATA II is still 300MB/s and the seek time doesn't change based on processor power.  Instant file access can make an old computer seem like a new one from the store.  You don't even need to defragment a solid state drive!

Random Access Memory is the lifeblood of the power-user.  If you experience slower speeds when multitasking, browsing with multiple tabs, or working with several layers in PhotoShop, RAM is the probable upgrade for you.  RAM is the fastest storage medium on your computer.  Without enough RAM, Windows has to start storing short-term data onto your hard drive.  Even if you have a SSD installed, RAM is considerably faster, and therefore slows down a great amount, when you run out of it.  Try using your computer with the task manager open next time you run into a slow down, and you can see if you would benefit from having more free RAM available.  Be advised, having more RAM is more important than having faster RAM, but on a high-end system, faster RAM has its benefits.


All of the above applies to desktops as well, but a few more easy upgrades are available to desktop users.

This is especially important if you have a small case, or purchased your computer from one of the major manufacturers.  Cooling is often overlooked and manufactured as inexpensively as possible, because if you save a few euros on each machine and you sell over one million machines, well you can do the math.  But insufficient cooling presents a serious problem to those who use their CPU in its upper limits, be it photo editing, video creation or gaming.  Modern motherboards limit CPU speed when it gets too hot, in order to keep it within a safe temperature range.  This can cause lag spikes, dropped frame rates, increased compile time, you name it.  Heat kills electronics.  It is an accumulative effect, and if the motherboard is "thermal throttling" that means the CPU is already above the recommended temperature range.  An inexpensive factory cooler replacement could be all that your system needs to go from a brick while under load, back to a brand new machine you can be happy with.  And despite being counter intuitive, a larger fan is usually quieter than a smaller factory one.  

Graphics Card
A new graphics card isn't just a thing gamers and graphical designers should be excited about.  With the advent of browser based games, media streaming, high efficiency media encoding and GPU optimizations in many programs, the GPU has become far more helpful in day to day computing for every kind of user.  An inexpensive upgrade could be the difference between an unwatchable Bluray, and a perfect home cinema experience, and modern GPUs even handle high definition audio in bit-perfect formats (such as DTS: Master Audio and Dolby Atmos).  By offloading intensive tasks to the GPU, the CPU can free up resources which reduces heat and also improves response.

Yes, the often overlooked human interface to the computer is actually a critical part in a good user experience.  Whether aiming for a no-scope snipe kill or trying to drag the corner of the box in a spreadsheet, if your mouse isn't precise enough you could be in for an aggravating experience.  
Not all mice are created equal.  The sensor technology in mice has undergone drastic improvements, from the mechanical ball to the first optical sensor, and even from the early sensors to modern ones.  The difference is staggering.

Just as important as the sensor are the ergonomics.  We spend more time on our computers than ever before, and the design of the mass market mouse hasn't changed much since the 1970s.  Ergonomic mice can provide more comfort and relieve wrist and hand strain, allowing you to painlessly continue to compute or compete.  
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